tv Charlie Rose PBS January 11, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PST
>> i think the next 10 days are very important for mitt romney, not in the sense of getting the nomination. that's virtually in the bag. but we'll see if he can take a punch. he really-- in iowa he was hard criticized at all. all the focus anti-gingrich. the ads that have started coming upitate taid bhalf are anti-mom romney, and we'll see whether it has any effect and how he counters that and formulates a better answer than he had so far. if he does that well, it will be
very smoot sailing. if he stumbles a bit yoke it the change the odds of the nomination but it will certainly make him a less-fordable candidate. >> and a new biography of the great diplomat george kennan by yale professor john lewis gatus. >> as far as american history d de global history is concerned, maybe he's the person who has the best claim or one of the best claims to having insured that second hamp of the 20th century w better nan e fit half. because he really came up with the formula with containment, chfl the middle way between having a third world war with the sowf union and appeasing the soviet union on the her hand. >> politics and diplomacy wn we continue.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new yo city, this is charlie rose. >> we begin tonight with analysis of the republican presidential primary race one day later, allize now turn to south carolina after mitt romney's decisive victory in new hampshire last night. the state holds its primary on january 23. though romney has a comfortable lead, his rivals are making the last stand to emerge as the anti-romney alternative. they touted their credeials and electabili as theyoved on to the palmetto state. >> i know we're going to work very hard in south carolina. last time i ran i came in fourth there so i know i have an uphill climb but the victory last nht in new hampshire gave me a real boost so i'm hoping to push forward and hopefully be successful.
>> you know, i've been electable. i've won 12 elections already and we're doing quite equal wl now. it's amazing that i do so much better than those other candidates that are all electable. they're all in fourth, fifth, and sixth place but they're all electable, but i come second or third andll of a sudn people say, "hesion not electable." i don't know how that adds up. >> we wen from 0, the margin of error candide, to third place last night. that was pretty cool, standing on that stage. ( applause ) standing on that stage and say we've got a ticket to ride. we can go on to south carolina. we passed. we got one of those tickets coming out of new hampshire. >> now, doing this, i think, requires somebody who can win the debates, somebody who can build a team, and somebody who has a track record of actually getting things done in washington on a grand scale.
>> joining me from washington is albert hunt of bloomberg news, rich lowrie of the "national review" and mark halperin of "time" magazine. i am pleased to have them all here. albert, as you know, you were standing with mr. halperin last night as we came from new hampshire. he came back to new york today to celebrate his birthday, so we're pleased to have him take time off from a huge birthday celebration to join us here this evening. ( laughter ). and i knowou feel strongly about that. >> he's the youngest 39-year-old i've ever seen, charlie. >> happying about the. >> nice to be back here. >> albert, where are we. mitt romney haters enter the final stages of grief. how you see where we are at this moment, going into south carolina? >> i think the next 10 days are very important under mitt romney, noin the sense of getting the nomination. that's virtually in the bag. we'll see if he can te a
punch. in iowa, he was hardly criticized at all. all the focus was anti--gingrich. the ads coming out today, about half are anti-romney, and we'll see whether it has any effect or not and howhe counters that and is able to formulate a better answer than he has so far on the value that private equity contributes to the economy. if he does that well, it's going to be very smooth sailing. if he stumbles a bit, i don't think it will change the odds of the nomination but will certainly make him a less-fordable candat >> y wou add t that what? >> i think it's a little bit crazy that he doesn't have his rhetoric down on bain capital. >> i do, t. >> we've known along with health care it would be a big part of the debate. it's a little bit understandable because no one could have predicd rick perry and newt gingrich wld make this the superpiece of the way they were going to go after him but it's in the media every day. there are news sties, investigate itch stories, the democrats hit it every day. he needs to get the story down. there's a story there. the "washington post" did a fact check on his statementes from
the the past. there are a lot of unanswered questions. i think he's pbably got a good enough story to tell about bain, that it will be at least neutral, maybe a net-plus but he's not telling it now. >> it goes to the heart of the argument why he ought to be president. >> it is thergument. he rare talks about what he did as governor of massachusetts. he doesn't talk much about the olympics. he doesn talk much about anything else he's done-- >> he talks about he's a successful busess man who knows how toanage the economy. >> you have to explain what that record is it so people can hold that in their hands and say i trust this guy. to me it's more than the record. the record has good and bad in bu he has has to be able to talk about it in a tangible way and it's baffling, given that he's doing everything else much better than the people running against him. >> you said last night's acceptance speech by mt romney was one of the best you had heard in politics. >> by mitt romney. >> oh, i'm sorry. >> the bill clinton speech was better. the mechanics were very good.
it was well written. he delivered it really well. he believed everything in it, in his heart, which is good for any politician, but particularly for one who needs toconvey authencity whenever poible d heook advantage of the moment. he spoke at 8:15-ish, and got a lot of attention for a speech that framed the argument, just as he framed it when he announced as president, almost as he'll frame it at the convention. >> fing he doesn't start defining bain, i think there are people who have positive stories that he can highlight, that he can say this is what i'malking abt. he's not doing that at all. >> all he is saying is, "welcome to capitalism. >> correct, and free enterprise is on trial. i n't know tt it. mitt romney's campaign could have a human face showing positives of bain. they're not doing that. they had several years to prepare for this. i don't quite know why they
don't have their ducks in a row in this. they put out the figure saying there have been 100,000 jobs created. that will picked apart. there were to handle this and put a positive frame on it. they thought they had time to do it. they were very caught off ard i think by the aggressive nature of the attacks on him by the people supporting newt gingrich and by newt gingrich, and i think he risks-- again, i think he is the nominee. but i think if he doesn't start defining bain on his terms it will get defined f him very soon. >> why do you think he hasn't done this? >> it's complicated. i think it's defensible but if you read the story-- what baindid. it's not easy to understand or explain. if you look at the "new york times" storyewt gingrich is referrg to, which actlly isn't a "new york times" story. it's a reuters story, newt's careful attention to the facts once again. but bain kes over this steel company that was going to fail
and go out of business one way or the other. it was either going to flat out go out of business right then or was going to take it over and do something with it and tk it er and tried legitimately to do something with it. they faile they managed it poorly, but they really tried to save this business. the thing people are going to have trouble understanding, ordinary people, is why tt business entually we bankrupt, yet bain still made money from it. >> people understand it too well. i think that aument is a pretty strong argument, maybe even for some republican voters because bain's business was not to create jobs. they were not benevolent owners, "boy this community will be hurt. let's give up some of our wealth to make one last go of it." they took out the money where they could. that was the businesthey were in. >> mitt romney is out there saying i was a job creator. >> that's right. he was a wealth creator for his shareholders and it goes
back to adam smith. the economy doesn't depend on the benevolence of the butcher or baker. it creates on the self-interest, the creative destruction a then you get more wealth but can be an ugly process. >> aol bert, what do you think? >> we did a very good piece, a fact check on this 28-minute documentary riddled with i had perply and errors. if anyone lookingality what the clai are made, they really are terribly exaggated. however, i think two very impoant points, one to pick up on what rich just said. i think whamitt mney is going to have a very hard time explaining is not why he did veryell with t successes, the sports authorities, the aples, but why when they failed, bain made out very well. why he got rich off of failure. that's-- that looks like risk-free capitalism which is not what capitalism is. i think the rger point why i think i don't quite agree with mark that he had turn this into a net-plus.
this is not an original thought with me, but the analogy between john kerry and his vietnam war veteran experience in 2004. that was his chief congressional. once you started to chip away at that, you had some people saying he's a hero, you had other people saying he's not. it eroded, that chief calling card. i think it's the same thing with bain. you can bring out the people from places like domino's and sports authority saying boy it was fabulous and they'll be counted by the others. i don't think that's a good argument with someone if that's the chief calling card. >> if he can't make it a n plus, i think the election is over if he is the nominee. >>ne thing he has going is 8. unemployment, mark. >> and, also, there's the question of the trend. where is it trending? >> i don't think you can be an incumbent president who has political skills-- >> even though the economy has not recovered and even though the economy-- >> if mitt mney can't present himself as a business-- experienced business man who has good ideas on the the economy
based in large part on his experience at bain, i can't imagine him winning the election. >> that's been his claim to fame since day one. >> it's the superpiece of what he's running on. >> i don't think anyone will conclude he wasn't a successful and effective business man. i think at the end of the day, if he's the nominee, what he needs to be is be confident)zrat sure they will succeed in that. >> this republican race, what has it been for thtea party? >> it has been dispiriting, you know, and the problem is, they didn't have one horse to back, they don't have one horse to back now, you look back through the last several, you know, last can couple of decades of contested republican primaries and this is just the way it always goes,here is one establishment candide, then you a social conservative, rick santum this time and then you have an economic conservative, i guess if yo you add up newt gingrich and rick perry they equal one economic conservative in their current reduced state, but it splits it up so the
establishment candidatwins and that is why a mitt romney very well could win south carolina on the john mccain plan, getbout a third of the vote, depend okay the rest of the fie fracturing the right way and the plurality becomes a winning one. >> and south carolina, social conservatives will be stronger than er? >>hey ll be strg but they are not the whole deal. you know, what rich said about the nominati holds forouth carolina. they voted for nominee every timend the accomplishment candidates won the thing every time. there is one establishment candidate in this race, he has got the governor support, she is a little bit of a confused figure i in in the history becae she a tea pty figure but she is the governor. he announce add bunch of other endorsements in the state so it is easy to see -- is easy to see the establishment candidate winning the primary, the other person who wins e primary is the rsonholays t south carolina rules the best whh is again the accomplishment candidate and the romney campaign is as hard-nosed and tough and aware of how to
manipulate voter opinion as anybody else in this race. >> the problem is mitt romney has not been a great candidate the last couple of days, and so i think we are going to see how he does going forward for the last 48 hours he had a couple of mistakes, talked about fearing a pink slip in his life and couldn't explain what that was and said i like firing people and was obviously taken out of context. >> i think you will hear more of at going forward d it more a sign of potential things to come, when h is feelin confidentable this don't necessarily go well .. i think he can walk the razor's line but when he feels at eas i think he makes more errors than you would expect. >> do you believe that? does the firing story have legs against him? >> charlie, you are asking me? >> yes. yes, it does, and it was take out of context a quite distorted, but stories have legs when they have some -- when they are part of a larger reali,
when barack obama talked about those rural folk in pennsylvania, the reason that story had some legs was because there was a sense that that is really what barack obama feels about those people, he over came it but that has legs. i think this story has legs for the same reason, is it a disqualifier, of course not but wrong it is going to go away. >> the same reason the windsurfer commercial had legs with respect to john kerry. >> i did and interview with governorromney before i was in new hampshire and spent halfhe me ting to talk to him about the workerat bain capital who got laid off, how did he feel about them as a human being? i couldn't get him to really answer the question on those terms. he kept answering it pretty clinical, about accep antiseptie said things at the end of the new hampshire concept he doesn't have a good feel for the human aspect of democracy, and of decisions made by government. >> will that come out in a debate with obama if he is the
nominee. >> and on the campan trail. >> so notwithstanding everythi we he said here, everybody at this table, and in washington believes that mitt romney is the nominee? >> you can invent a scenario, particularly if the negative ads ha an impact, you can invent a scenario he is wounded in south carolina and loses to gingrich in florida, but it is a fantasy scenario, there is no basis for it right now in the trajectory. >> i spent a lot of time inventing these scenarios. i resent that. >> we will see. i have a rooti interest in rick santorum d i ent a lot of time at my desk inventing scenarios where newt is so discredited himself, he is wandering around the battlefield with a leaky flamethrower every day.
traditional i are understood. >> rose: suppose you coul could ve elected the republican nominee, who would you have selected even if they are not a candidate now. >> jeb bush. >> he is an extremely impresve former office holder now, but, you know, obviously, the bush name, but i think within ten minutes of looking at the guy, everyone will realize he is so different from his brother and mitch daniels, policy wonk, not threatening, a license of human for a former b director has some connection to the kind of midwestern working class type voters and understands the need to appeal to them. i would have liked him to the. we can keep ongoing charlie.
all of the guys that didn't run. >> rose: here is the other question, albert, why can't conservatives get together this is it just the ambition of everyone saying, i am the best choice? if you don't choose me then i will stay in the race? >> that is part of it, charlie, and he don't really have a really great natural horse. there is no ronald reagan, if you will. >> rose: yes. >> i happen to think governor crist city would have been a very strong candidate if he had run and i will tell mark, let me just say that newt gingrich has got as much chance of a winning the florida primary as duke did of winning the rose bowl, that ain't going to happen, and there is no -- again, paul ryan, untested, there was no natural conservative candidate to fill that void. >> rose: albert if we had any luck we would have been won the rose bowl. >> not duke. >> rose: that wouldn't have been enough. all right. so where- what could the defining issues for the remainer of this primary race?
>> no issues, just can anybody find something to put on the air and do robo calls and flyers that can cause mitt romney's numbers to drop. >> rose: and the money is there to do that from either ed son for getting rick in in the super pac or -- >> i will tell you, every time anyone threatened mitt romney he only felt threatened by newt gingrich and perry. >> if they felt threatened they destroyed someone. >> if ric sanrum esp south carolina you will see a lot of effort by john mccain and the media to bring him back down. >> what is the biggest endorsement ronald any could get. >> jim demint, from south carolina. >> i think it is possible right now. >> said very good things about him, actually said newt gingrich needs to quit attacking him o abercrombie fitch borings. he played it coy and decided he is not going to endse or indicated that so far, but he, at a minimum this signals to tea party folks he is palatable
ssibility at this point. >> rose: in the establishment south carolina vote. >> at the end of this campaign year when the president is elected, will the tea party be stronger or weaker than it was at the conclusion of the 2008 election? >> eight or ten? >> rose: ten, i'm sorry. >> almost definitely weaker. >> rose: weak never so all that happened with the tea party, and its impact on the republican party will be weaker? >> i think so. unless rick e-- unless ri santorum is elected president. i will go back and invent a scenario. >> rose: david brooks said on this program that -- and in his column that america doesn't want to see a harvard lawyer versus a harvard lawyer. >> yeah, i mean, it would be very odd in this populist moment where you have this rolling diontent and mistrust of all of o institutions if romney is the nominee you have two guys that are pretty techno cratic
that are pretty aloof and have demonstrated trouble connecting with people over their bre an butter economic concerns. >> rose: albert, when you talked about whahas happened here, and you project forward, the economy is a significant issue. what else will be the issues that will define the general election? >> well, it is the economy but it is also the role and side size of government. it really is a larger argument in that sense and i think that will be terribly important, as of today i really don't think natial security wille much of an issue but that could change with an event, who knows. but i think the size and role of government will be an essential issue this fall, and i think both sides have pretty clearly defined views and they are different. they may not be instrumental as in the past but it is quite clear. >> two candidates i want, i want to talk about, ron paul, what impact is he having. >> a real impact, attracted a
majority of the youth vote and the only person who seems destined to keep going, i think we will see a lot of people dropping out if notafter south carolina, florida, ron paul can live off the land and he will be apeacing delegates and trying to posion himself and he is someone the party will have to deal with and also someone who doesn't want to imperial his son's political future. >> rose: so he won't go third party. >> i don't think he will go third party but he will dangle that as a possibility to get what he wants. >> rose: whais it that john huntsman wants? >> to be president of the united states. >> rose: i understand that. what else? >> there was a moment -- >> rose: it is unlikely -- >> a lot of people in the establishment said before iowa we want another establishment choice because we don't like mneyand at that point huntsman couldave been that pers, but today, he wants to not give up when he can poured to go to the next state and roll the dice and see wt happens and see if something happens. >> rose: what scenario is good
for m. >> romney kes a horrible mistake, he makes a big mistake about bain a he loses south carolina. >> rose: every anti-romney scenario -- >> every scenario -- >> the problem with every scenario is in the long-term huntsman is not on the ballot in a lot of b steaks. ntsman has, he doesn't have money and under every scenario and worst case for romney is he wins an ugly in april. >> rose: and is damaged? >> the best move would have been rolling back thelock and dropping out and deciding third place was a victory and preserved himself for -- >> rose: and -- >> he didn't join the race that early and put a lot into it and i always have great reluctance to call on people to qui or to not -- i have a frmount of emthy for them. they want to see it through. no one has won a handful of
delegates and mistakes can be made and why not go to south carolina and see a little more and see what happens. >> rose: i think the person besides mitt romney who is seeing things brea exactly the way he would want it is ron paul. because you see all of these nonromneys flaking off and dying slow deaths, ron paul is going to see it through to the d and in that scenario if it is romney and paul, i'm sorry paul doesn't get his enthusiasts at 20 percent, they are discontented with romney so they could yet in the 30s a then he is in a much better position to exercise leverage overhe party at the time of the convention. >> certainly the second most delegates, ron paul. >> time magazine, he goes from being a sideshow to a real player in this. the second most delegates is a player. >> rose: but he will not ru for a third party because -- can he influence the vice esidency, what influence will he have on romney? >> i think romney will have to pay more attention to his
issues. >> rose: like iran? >> spending? >> no. i was going to say, he came -- he went to the st. paul convention with 15 delegates he will have more than that this time. i don't totally agree with maggie, i totally wouldn't rule out a third party candidacy, he will either do that or say i want manager, it is all going to be abo platform and the republicans will have to accommodate him in some uncomfortable away because they can't accommodate him on foreign licy >> the federal reserve. >> rose: the federal reserve is in trouble if he has influence, if he is the nominee. >> mitt romney will stale right past him. >> rose: okay. out of all of the republicans, way beyond my curiosity, of all of the people that are in the politics of 2012, whois most likely to be a front runner if, in fact, obama wins in 2016?
>> none of these people. >> it will be chsti oritch daniels or jeb bush. >> will he finally run if you put another time between his brother's presidency and -- >> i think it can have a much harder time in 2016 because you will see these fresh faces and jeb will feel like old news. >> rose: albert? >> listen, i am looking forward to 16. chris christie, rahm emanuel, andrew cuomo, you know, the rumble in the jungle, i mean, you know, on domestic to god and just hold it in vegas. >> rose: i will leave it there, happy birthday, albert, albert, thank you so much, great to haveou. the late george is considered one of the most important foren policy thinkers of the 20th century after wor war two he set up the strategy of containment that would define
policy toward the soviet union for the next four decades, becamennfluential intellectual of american diplomacy, politics and culture, yale historian gaddis spent the last 30 years writing his authorized biography, it is called george f kennan, and american life, i am pleased to have professor john lewis gaddis at this table, welcome. >> thank you, charlie, it is good to be here. >> tell me how you first came to know kennan and came to this idea when died you would write this biography? >> well you could of course not be a cold war historian and not know of kennan. >> rose: right. >> because he was quite accessible and it was possible to know kennan and interview him which i didwo or three times in the 1970's, i think what really caused us to connect was the book that i did on containment which was 1982. he wrote a draft of that, and started sending me fan letters. you have understood my views exceedingly well, better than
anyone else ever has, so on and so forth and about three of these and i was quite amazed by this, and i was still rather young and unknown historian at that point, so i wrote is anyone doing your biography? i thought mae he was angling for a biography. he wrote back and said, i had never occurred to him that anyone would wish to do his biography but now that we had, i had brought it up we should discuss how it would be done and this is where the book came from. >> and then that was what this the eighties. >> that 19. >> rose: 81? >> yes. >> and he has collected tons of letters and notes. >> he wrote wonderful letters, of course, and he saved almost everything. he wrote eraordinary diaries which come to 10,000 plus pages, many of them hand written, so he always knew that there was going to be a biography, when i got into the papers, charlie, i
found notes from documents in 1949, little notes clipped to the documents, the biographer you must really pay attention to this or that. >> rose: but he lived to be 100 and what. >> he lived to be 101 and was 78 when we made this deal and the arrangement was always that it would be posthumous so this was something that george perceived as a grievous failing on his part that he lived so longnd delad the biography. >> rose: tell me who he was. >> he was many different things. many different people, even. i would say. as far as american history and global history is concerned, maybe he is the person who has the best claim or onof the best claims to having ensured that the second half of the 20th century was better than the rst half, because he really came up with the formula with containment which was the middle way between having third world
war with t sovt union and appeasing the soviet union on the othe hand so you had one great idea that was enormously influential, but he was many other this in his lifestyle, not least a critic of his one big idea in the way it had been implemented by succeeding administrations over the years. >> rose: he first came sort of washington's attention with a long telegram. >> yes that is february of 1946, kennan is number 2 in the embassy in moscow, haverhi, the ambassador has come home and yet another request from washington, one of many to please explain soviet behavior. an george, on this, at this point was on the verge of what must have been his fourth or fifth threatened resignation from the foreign service, and so he felt he had nothing to lose so he just cut loose and he sent it all by cable, not by pouch which would have been the normal
method. it is over 5,000 words and that breaks all the rules in the state departmt for the length of cables, so it ensured somebody at the other end read it which you could not count on with the couch dispatches. >> rose: and people who read it were influential people, not harry truman but a lot of people around harry truman. >> i like to think it started with a clerk, saying why is this 5,000 words -- and it was passed up to language and then the content of it was extraordinary. >> rose: what did he say? >> he said, in effect, that soviet union is not going to be the grand and glorious all in the postwar period that it had been in the wartime riod, and we h to get used to that. he said that the soviet union, the soviet system, stalin required a hostile outside world, and so there wasothing we could do to overcome that hostility, it was inherent in the system. but he also said if we were
patient then the internal contradictions within the system, sooner or later would frustrate its ambitions, we had time, stalin was not hitler, he didn't have a timetable, and so with patience and some building of forfications on our side, in time, the system would umble from within. so it is an extraordinary anticipation ofhat would actually happen. >> rose: but we had to resist every extension of their effort ofheirxtension. >> not necessarily, this is what is wording at times implied but he was very, very cautious about the relationship between ends and mes, he did not want us going around the world opposing communism everywhere. so he had to oppose it in europe and in japan, the areas that were vital, he said wead no business opposing it in china because china was far beyond our capabilities. he sd leave china alone, let it go, communists, l moo take,
[ moo! ] over and, clear mao will break of his own accord with the russians which he did. >> what other insights? because it is said about him he really did have the power and ability to look and see the way history would unfold and what you just said about china is clearly evidenced by lots of other instances. >> i think that's right .. and actually, kennan was much better on russia than he was on china. he was never a china specialist but on russia he was extraordinary in his ability to do that. and one of the things that surprised me in writing the board book is where those insights came fr. it came more from reading 19th century russian literature, and what they could y about the russian national character than they did actually studying the soviet union, so tolstoy, it is check of who persuade george that come in addition, communism
is some sort of artificial imposition on the soul of russia. you put it the way he would put it. and so in this sense, tt'shy we could wait. that's why we could be patient because time was on our si. >> but the point was that he clearly understood and had the perspective of history and used hiory as an understaing of diplomatic tools? >> he used history, but i think he used culture as much as he did history, because these are literary works, so -- and they are not all historical works, but they opened that window into the russian national character, and it was from that combination, the synthesis of history d culture that he uses to look very far into the future, really which is what it boils down to. >> rose: he felt like he was an outsider, though. >> he was, or so he did feel.
>> rose: but i mean, give us inght into this, how he saw him self. >> he was an outsider in a sense he was amid werner at a time when the foreign service was east coast establishment. he was an outsider in the sense he had very little money and what money he had he lost in the depression. he was an outsider in ychological terms, having lost his mother when he was only two months old and growing up without a mother. it was just a permanent anguish to, sense of loneliness all of his life in that regard. but he was als an outsider in the nse that he could -- he was nevesatisfied with the status quo within the government. he was what is called a reexaminationist. >> instantly wants to reconsider it,. >> rose: he was self critical. >> he was so critical and at the same time, so fearful of policies getting locked in and then not being able to to be changed that he was conantly
seeking to readjust along the wa and that works okay up to a point, but it doesn't sustain self within bureaucracies which really need consistency and cannot be recalibrating at evy moment and that's what george really wanted to do. >> rose: he also has been accused and you mentioned sort of being anti-women, had many affairs and been accused of a whole range of controversial positions that he seemed to have. >> uh-huh. >> rose: whereid that come from? >> well i would say first of all, charlie, he had some affairs with many, you know, you have to put it in context of time, this is, at this time a lot of people had affairs, george just left records of them, and i think that same issue about the. >> rose: i only know that because of this book. >> yes, i kn. obviously you read it. but the same comment applies to his views on women and on african-americans. >> rose: rig. >> and certainly on jews, there
are comments which if dragged into the current context would seem horribly politically incorrect, but many of them were default positions for people of his stat and class back in the 1930s and the 1940s. so part of the problem of a historian is wt do youo with comments like that? you cannot ignore them, but i think you do have to say they were typical of the time, and that therefore, they should not be judged by the standards of this time. >> rose: this is pure speculation, but do you believe that if he had been alive, say, in the last five years and with an understanding of history and especially history in the middle east a george kennan would have understood the possibility of the arab spring happening? >> i think he -- well, first of all he would have been the first to say he was no middle eastern pert as well, so he was humble about the areas he didn't know anything about. but secondly if you think about this idea of a society or a
culture or series of regimes that carry within the seeds within themselves the seeds of their own destruction, i think he would have seen the analogy to the soviet union if you look at the way in which the arab spring has taken place, not as a resultf american action, really, but as a result, simply people getting fed upith a system that no longer serves their interests. >> rose: from the bottom up. >> people from the bottom up and that's what he saw as likely to happen i russia and he was right. >> would he therefore have drawn a line from that as to what is happening in russia today? >> i think. >> rose: and to put? >> i think he may wel have. >> rose: and he would suggest, wild speculation. >> yes. >> -- that putin is in trouble? >> he would be very careful in what he would say about putin it seems to me because george never believe that you can transplant decracy on a american model, whether it is to the middle east for to china or to russia or
anywhere else. >> who does believe that? because i don't know of anybody, everybody says you have to understand that you cannot take an american democratic model and impose it on someone else. they have to find their own form of democracy. i don't know who is arguing the contra. >> well, everybody says that, but then we very ambitiously go in and try to do it sometimes and george felt we were much too ambitious in trying to do it. so i think he would acknowledge that the russia people qte often feel that a strong man is good, that a country needs that kind of discipline to hold together, so he would not be surised by the emergence of a putin, he was far more surprised by the emergence of gorbachev, actually. but i think -- >> how did he explain gorbachev? >> he could not explain gorbachev, gorbachev was a total surprise to him. >> rose: because of gorbachev the individual or the forces that gorbachev -- >> how could a person like that have risen within that system?
someone who was prepared to challenge the whole nature of the system? >> rose: he had some interesting mentors, kgb, what was his name? >> dropov. >> i would come back to george and talk about this and he said, look you said in 1947 the system carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction and this new generation of people are going to come up and he would acknledge he sd that in 1947, but he would not take credit for having foreseen the emergence of gorbachev, he was quite extraordinary in his reluctance to take credit for his own insights. >> rose: i think it was kissinger who said that this great american dilemma between idealism and realism played out in george kennan's soul? >> uh-huh. >> rose: what did he mean? >> he meant that george kennan's character really contained ements of both, so there are aspects of kennan's thinking
that could be said to be cold-blooded in geo political realism but there are also these ideals that were there, one of them has to do with what his expectations were of his own country, and that is why i sub titled the book an american life. >> rose: expectations in terms that he d certain reservations about democracy? >> he had huge reservations about democracy and huge reservations about the country, and all of this at the same time he said the country coulde so much better than what it is. what he meant by that was that he wanted the country to go back to what it was when he was a boy, it was kind of an unrealistic viewpoint. >> rose: the frontier? >> no. kind of a small town, where there were no automobiles advertising, television, particularly, was not approved. >> rose: but later he would be on television in his life. >> he did but that was very grudging on his part.
>> rose: roll the tape. this is a conversation i had, one of two, i think, we had and he often was on with robin mcneil here on pbs, but here is an excerpt george kennan with me. >> your advice to america at the end of the cold wars fix its own house. why do you say that? what is it that we need to do to strengthen america? >> well, first of all, i wouldn't say that for many, many years i have been persuaded at the best thing we can do for other people, the best we can do to help them, to influence them, is by examp, and not by what used to be called precept, not by preaching at them. that they will be much more impressed by wha they see tha is admable o the other way in our own life than they will be by anything that we say to them, especially when we try to talk down to them.
and to tell them how wonderful we are. >> rose: well, you know, it is interesting you say that because if you look at what has happened in parts of eastern europe the argument is made that some of the aspirations there show a finer appreciation for american values and that are sometimes reflected in america, an appreciation of democratic values. >> well, they sometimes see both the virtues in our society, which we haven't seen, and they see weaknesses too, which we haven't seen. it is like seeing yourself on the movie picture screen, you see a different person than you are aware of being. >> rose: as we talk there is a monitor there we can both see each other. >> yes. >> rose: you don't believe and i will come back to what we need to do inmerica and what we need to ok at, including some interesting and what i thought rather new ideas about restructuring the nation ofthe country, the nature of the
republic, but you don't think we should necessarily be forcing democracy on nationsround the world, or we have to understand the differences. >> that is correct. in the first place, i don't think that all other nations are ready for this. perhaps it doesn't lend itself to them at all for a democratic system. but more important than that, is that as i just said, iwe go to th and say to them, you ought to be like us, that -- that doesn't have the effect they want to have, if we invite them to come to this country, or to look at our media product, look -- read our books, see the evidences of our civilization and make theirwn -- make up their own minds, that is much more effective than our saying it about ourselves. >> rose: so tell me how you
react, when you listen tthose words andyouead all the diaries and read all the memos and you know -- you had all of the conversations. >> when i hear him say this and i heard him say this many times, i hear the voice of john quincy adams, because this is where this came from. we go not abroad in search o monsters to destroy, john quincy adams, 1821, it was his favorite quotation. so that idea that america could serve as the inspiration for much othe rest of the world by example was deeply rooted in kennan as it was in john quincy adams as wel but there al t sense that if we go out and try to force ourselves on others, then we disrupt what it is we are trying to achieve in the first place. >> rose: who are his disciples today? who are the people who are the kennan want to bes. >> there are a lot of kennan want to bes, i don't think kennans who --
>> the power of his ideas to transform an american view of the world. >> i don't think we have such people today, charlie, think there is something in the system that resists develing sh people, i think that is partly a function of e educational process, we don't educate people broadly enough to think in these terms. i think it is partly a function of the structure of government, and particulay the demand for instant accountability so that nobody has time to think on these matters, on this kind of a scale. i think it is also and in a sense it is lucky, i guess, that we really have not had a great over arching designing crisis like the generation of rld war ii becausehat forcedeoplto think about -- >> rose: vietnam and iraq war? >> not to the same extent, 9/11 came closest to , i would say. >> rose: because? >> because it was such a cosmic shock, because it forced us to rethink all of our assumptions, pearl harbor did that, anybody
id that, vietm, korea, ghanistan, these were more within the parameters of existing policy than they were calling into question those policies. >> rose: what did kennan think of vietnam? >> well he was very much against the vietnam war. certainly by 1965, and he played a major role, really, in leading the opposition to it through the fulbright hearings, february 1966, because this is the senate foreign relations, first televised hearings on the vietnam war. and up to that time, the opposition to the war had been academic, the teach ins, it had been young people, it had not been an establishment figure like george kennan, but when george kennan went on fulbright's -- went before fulbright's committee. >> senate foreign relation's commite. >> and fod himself witho expecting to himself on national television that day the whole nature of the debate changed, it has an astonishing impact as you can see on the tape he was
wonderfully charismatic on television, although he detested television greatly, and so it had a huge impact. his public opposition to the war in vietnam. >> rose: and then iraq? >> and then iraq washe last event, really, that he pronounced upon. he was interviewed about the runuto th war in iraq in 2002. he thoht it was a terrible idea. he had no sympathy for, that is putting it mildly, the administration of george w. bush. it is very interesting, charlie, that in 1944 george on the way to moscow is coming through baghdad and has to stay overnight or stay there three nights and he writes in his diary, this is a terrible place. it is too hot to go out in the day and too dangerous to go out at night, butome fool american is going to come along at some
point and try to redesign the whole thing. and this is a improve a prophec4 and that's what he thought was happening in 2002, 2003. >> the lead story in "the new york times" this morning, arrest warrant for sunni leader spurs iraq crisis, death squads alleged at u.s. exits fear of insurgce arise. a dangerous political crisis is faced monday as the shiite dominated governor ordered the arrest of the sunni vice president. >> iraq's tenuous partnership government to the edge of clams. a major sunniacked coalition said the ministers would walk off. >> george would y i saw that ming. >> rose: and therefore another reason not to go there. >> yes. >> rose: because whatever is in the dna of these countries will prevail. >> that is the point. this comes back to national
culture, you cannot change anything that is so deeply rooted as national culture at you havto d is to balance these countries against each other, what you have to do is look for leverage, points of leverage where you can wh a small amount of effort achieve a big effect, a marshall plan is a good example of a successful application of leverage, but there are not many such situations and he found very few, like that in the rest of his career. >> rose: what was the most significant evolution in his thinking over the years from the time that he created the idea of containment to his death? >> i think the most striking evolution had to do with nuclear weapons, because like ny other people, he knew nothing about the a atomic bomb at the time it was used at hiroshima. he -- his first reaction was thank god we have this. we have to keep it from the russians because we may need to use it again at some point. and like many other people, at
the time, he viewed atomic weapons as kind of an extension of strategic bombing in world war ii. but when t they were know nuclear revolution, the hydrogen bombas firs taldbout and developed, in 1949, 1950, 1,000 times more powerfu than the atomic weapon that is when he totally switched and he became a nuclear abolitionist, really, that early, very much under the influence of the developer of the atomic bomb, and this was kennan's position for the rest of his life. >> rose: there is a bit of that now in part, don't you think, with what kissinge and sam nunn? >> many of these people have come around to this view. >> rose: se variation of abolition? >> of course, they are just following ronald reagan, which is the most significant nuclear abolitionist. >> rose: which is why i would love to tak your cours at yale.
another one of these wise men. >> his previous books strategies of containment, the long peace we know now, the landscape of history, surprise, security and the american experience in the cold war, a new history, he teaches courses on cold war histy, grand stregy, biraphand historical methodology. this most important. he has won two yale undergraduate teaching awards and 2005ecipient of the national humanity medal. here is what troubles me. if you were a new preside, with no experience in foreign affairs,ho would you an those that you might select want to see in the room with the president, make an making important decisions about? afghanisn, china, and latin america? >> right. i would want to see in the room with the president somebody who
is not a specialist in any of those areas, but can actually connect them, can actually say, here is what the american national interest with regard to all of these areas is, these are the tradeoffs that we will face if we give emphasis to one over the other. in other words, i would want to see a geralist at that level, and have the specialist at lower levels but want to see a general. > at that level and that's what i think kennan was and that's what i think is really lacking. >> rose: an is that what kennedy wanted with george bundy? >> i think he hoped that this is what the national security advisor would be, that they would play this kind of role. i think some did it better than others. i think kissinger certainly holds the record for the most effective national security -- >> rose: because he understood both? >> because he understood strategy and because he understood strategy is -- >> rose: and culture? >> less so but stregy,articularly strategy is the relationship of
everything to everything ee, and that really is hard to do, and you really can't be bogged down in some specialty and expect to do that, so that is, i ink, where our educational system is failing us today, because we don't tin generalists. we are training specialists. >> can we go on line and see your course? >> no. it i not on line. i'm sorry to say. i had a student who came and told me last year that i was superfluous that the who tng is on line. very tactful. >> rose: the book is called george f kennan, an american life. thank you. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org